Friday, October 24, 2008

Why use Social Media?

I was staggered yesterday when someone asked me why use social media instead of the traditional tools marketers have used - newspapers, TV, radio, direct mail, online advertising etc. There must be a conspiracy to keep me from posting about the POST methodology, but this is fundamental. Here goes ...

While the Cluetrain Manifesto reads like ... well, a manifesto, it makes a very clear point - the Internet essentially enables one ground-shaking thing. Conversations. Between people. People like you and me.

Traditional marketing media enable essentially one mind-numbing thing. Unilateral statements. From "somebody-san". Who can't possibly know me, let alone be like me.

So take off your marketing beanie, and think about it. How do you relate to people? Do you stand on opposite corners of a football field from your significant other and shout out intimate intimations of passion and desire? Probably not. There's a place for it, like some people propose marriage via the scoreboard in the South Stand at the HK Sevens. But it's pretty impersonal and you could easily be misunderstood.

So when traditional company-consumer relationships are shape-shifting before your eyes, it's probably not smart to only use traditional media. I don't advocate just using social media, but I am a champion of only using smart media - where I'm informed by deep demographic, psychographic, and "media-graphic" data about the person I'm trying to talk to.

Regardless of which particular social media technology you're thinking about, the plain reality is that your customers are out there somewhere in the pond. And to quote Jeremiah Owyang, you've got to fish where the fish are.

Thought for the Day: Having conversations with people when, where, and how they want seems to be a good way to start a relationship.

P.S.: If you look at this post from Michael Brito, you'll find some really interesting data from Cone. Michael's post goes on to make some sensible suggestions about the ways social media users (a majority of the population) want companies to interact with them. That data is North American, but you can bet that the responses are portable across borders. Particularly when Japan shows higher levels of Creators, Critics, Collectors, and Joiners.

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